Evolution of molecular devices for synthetic biology using droplet microfluidics

Applications are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at the intersection of biophysics/microfluidics, molecular evolution, and synthetic biology at the Technical University Munich in Garching, Germany (TUM). The project will be conducted in the research group of Professor Friedrich Simmel at the Physics Department of TUM. The position is available from March 1, 2019 or later (depending on administration issues). Research area and project description: The project is in the area of biophysics/bioengineering/synthetic biology.

The project aims at the development of functional molecular components for synthetic biology and bionanotechnology using evolutionary approaches. This involves the optimization of components with gene regulatory function, the screening of synthetic biochemical circuits for specific functions, and the optimization of metabolic and multi-enzyme systems. The project requires the development of experimental approaches for screening of suitable molecular libraries, employment of advanced microfluidics for droplet filling, mixing, sorting as well as high-throughput analysis.

The position is for 3 years and is funded by the PhD school EVOdrops, a recently established Innovative Training Network (ITN) under the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions research fellowship programme. EVOdrops is a translational approach for microfluidics and biochemical methods towards the engineering of proteins and other biomolecular systems of industrial or therapeutic interest. EVOdrops will train a new generation of early stage researchers (ESRs) in a multidisciplinary network from different communities - biology, biotechnology, microfluidics and microtechnology engineering - to explore directed evolution processes for protein engineering and synthetic biology in an integrative way that transcends the training provided in one single team or even institution.

The ESRs will be trained to develop and apply a global and multi-disciplinary approach based on key enabling technologies for high-throughput analysis in biological fields. Our overarching goal is to optimize processes at all levels of the chain of operation to reach ultra-high throughput, improved sensitivity and reliability of systems for the selection of variants of fundamental, medicinal, practical and industrial interest.

Qualifications and specific competences: The successful candidate should have completed a master’s degree (or equivalent) in Physics/Biophysics or Biochemistry/Biotechnology or related fields no later than March 1, 2019. The candidate should have a strong interest in interdisciplinary experimental work between biochemistry and physics, in microfluidics, microscopy and screening techniques, and have the ability to use mathematical and computational data analysis methods.

To qualify for funding under the rules of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie action, candidates must: i) not have lived in Germany for more than 12 months in the last 3 years ii) not already possess a PhD degree and iii) be in the first four years of their research career, since, for example, completion of a masters’ degree.

Application deadline: We will start screening the first applications after January 11th 2019. Starting date is flexible between March 1st and June 1st 2019.

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